Head coach Stephen Constantine on Tuesday announced a 22-member squad that will travel to China to play India’s first ever international football match on Chinese soil.
While the team selected has many regular names, striker Balwant Singh was left out of the squad as his passport expires in less than six months. He was denied a Chinese visa,” said a report of PTI.
“Balwant’s passport will expire in less than six months, five months and a week to be exact. So, he has been dropped. In the past 18 months, he has done well,” coach Constantine was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India ahead of his team’s training session at the JLN stadium in New Delhi.
India and China have faced each other 17 times, with the Red Dragons winning 12 of those encounters. The rest five ended in draws. The last time they played against each other was in the 1997 Nehru Cup in Kochi, where China won 2-1.
Constantine was quick to accept that the opponent will be tough to beat but at the same time, this is the kind of matches India needs, in order to improve themselves.
“We are fully aware that China are a big side in the region. They will be a very difficult side. They want to play possession football and they employ a high line (defenders come up). There will be a big stadium, big crowd but we have to play under pressure. These are the matches we need to play, to find out where we are, how good we are and how far we have to go,” Constantine said as quoted by the news agency.
“When you step on the pitch, you always play to win. We will go all out for a win. But if we lose, we will try to find out the positive aspects.”
In his second stint with the Indian senior football team as its head coach, Constantine has so far given a debut to 44 players, ever since he was appointed in 2015.
Asked if he will do the same against the Chinese, the 55-year-old said, “More than 50 per cent of the current squad is Under-23 and if I feel some more young players need to be given a chance, I will do that.”
India plays China in Suzhou on October 13.
The Final Squad:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Karanjit Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary
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